I thought starting a new regular post discussing what affiliate websites are doing to be profitable and effective, affiliate websites that are downright hilarious, and affiliate websites that fall in between these two ends of the spectrum would be beneficial to our readers. My goal is to point out aspects of publisher websites that are unappealing, and also support those who are doing it right. I don't want anyone to feel ripped on, but I think we can learn from the bad websites just as much as we can learn from the good. Sometimes the sites are funny, like the ones that put pictures of themselves from way back in the day all over the site. Sometimes there is so much going on with colors, animations that are flashing and making noise, and pop-ups that I wonder if they may cause viewers to have an epileptic seizure. Still other times I question what the webmaster is thinking, for instance I recently came across an affiliate website that used a 7 year old Drowning Pool song as background music "Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor" (shudders). While these examples may be obvious “no no's” to those attempting to create a quality website, there are a few basic rules that I would like to point out this month that may help affiliate marketers make improvements.
Site 1: HydroponicsUSA.com - This website does not have a strong affiliation to our products, unless you really want to classify it as "Home and Garden". From what I'm aware, hydroponics are used frequently to grow illegal substances, and whether or not that is all they are used for, the correlation is strong enough to make me question the website before I even see it. Consider the affiliation between your brand and the connotation of hydroponics. I guess it depends on who your target market is, but for me a red flag goes up. One of the first things that I notice when I look at an affiliate website is the contact information; it provides a sense of validity to the retailer and potential guests. What I notice about this website is that there is no contact information or about us so that visitors can find out more about the website. This always makes me concerned about the legitimacy of the website.
Site 2: BurberryCoatReview1234.blogspot.com - If your website listed in the program is a blog named BurberryCoatReview with a string of numbers, you are probably spam. I wish there was a way to block affiliates based on their URL, or words within their URL. Spammer affiliates will create hundreds of free blog websites about a particular product or brand in order to try and gain massive exposure to visitors. You'll also notice that such sites will have 1-2 posts that are likely very old. The publisher writes an article or two, then moves on to create another blog website account. If blogger affiliates are signing up for your program, verify their start date and look to see how many posts they have in their history. If there are only a few posts, most of which are older, and there is a good chance that this is the case, the publisher will not likely be a quality affiliate as most blogs fail when they are abandoned by their owner.
Site 3: CouponCactus.com - This is an example of a wonderful effort by David Fitterman to collect and organize coupons from merchants. With a strong offering of exclusive coupons, Coupon Cactus has over 800 stores and 2,000 coupons to check out. The site provides visitors with the ability to browse by store, category, size of discount, new and expiring, as well as site favorites. Coupon Cactus incentivizes its users to sign up and register to earn cash back to their account, similar to Jellyfish cashback. While there has been much talk about coupon sites and whether or not they should be part of a merchant's affiliate program, I believe with the right approach and management a coupon affiliate site can be a positive addition in an affiliate program, and I think this is a good example of a publisher that is doing it right.
Site 4: Homeincomeportal.com/... - If your site is about how to make $$$$ from home in just minutes a day, you will get declined, at least by our affiliate management team. The quality of these sites is generally terrible, packed with false/questionable statements and gimmicky software solutions for sale, such as "traffic magnet" or "banner fiesta". This specific example has dozens of different topics including software ads, recipes, testimonials (with a picture of a man with no shirt on), and ten plus links to products called "Buy this here". The page was so long, I seriously had to scroll for quite a long time to review all the content (if you can even call it that). Such a long page is poor design and ineffective at generating conversions for your program. This design structure and get rich quick type of marketing is not something I consider to be beneficial to the retailer, or all eCommerce for that matter.
Let's recap and look at the key takeaways for both publishers and affiliate managers this month:
- Don't use animated gifs (especially ones of flames touting "Hot Deals!"), tiled/repeating background images, mouse cursor effects, useless sound effects and background music.
- Don't use free hosting site urls like tripod, geocities (yes, I still see applicants with these), etc. Spend $7 and purchase a domain, it will be worth it in the long run.
- Provide links for retailers to contact you for recruitment purposes or other reasons.
- Don't get nasty with the affiliate manager. Yes we have received, such distasteful replies to our publisher decline emails as "your loss", "it's your money (aka your company's) that you're losing" or "I don't know what your problem is". Let's act like responsible, grown up, mature professionals. We are trying to do business together to benefit both parties.
- Do include your affiliate ID in email communications, as it helps pull up your account instead of hunting you down by domain.
- Don't use free templates for affiliate sites. I usually get about a dozen applications a week that use some sort of pre-configured template.
- Avoid creating a page full of 468x60 banners that takes several minutes to load even on broadband. No one, I mean no one, will wait to see all the banners to load.
- Build a site that the merchant would be proud to link to and be associated with.
Look for next month's edition with more reviews and tips.